In spite of the title above, this blog post has very little to do with money! But I love a good object lesson, and I wanted to share this one with you today.
Last week I was listening to Eryn Lynum talk about her book 936 Pennies: Discovering the Joy of Intentional Parenting on a podcast episode of Family Life Today.
She shared the story of when she and her husband dedicated their little boy to Christ during a service at their church. The pastor gave each of the families a jar filled with 936 pennies.
He explained that each penny represented one week of their child’s life from the time they were born until they turned 18. At the end of each week, the parents were to remove one penny from the jar. This visual aid was to remind parents of the passing of time and to encourage them to be intentional in how they spent the weeks they had with their children.
As Eryn finished the story, I thought about how our jar would look if we’d been given 936 pennies when our oldest daughter was born.
Right now, there’d be only three pennies left.
Yes, in just over three weeks, our oldest daughter turns 18.
That’s hard for me to fathom. To visualize a big glass jar, once full of pennies and heavy to lift, now basically empty.
Admittedly, she’ll still be living in our home for another nine months, until she goes off to college. But looking back, I have to ask myself, “How have I spent the last 933 weeks?”
There’s lots of good to look back on. There are certainly also those mom moments that I’m not proud of. Hopefully, those will fade from both her memory and mine.
I have to wonder at this stage if she’s caught the most important things, what really matters in life. And I wonder if I’ve lived before her a Godly example she can follow.
So while I’m taking a moment to look back, there’s room for all of us to look forward.
How many pennies are left in your child’s jar? Maybe you’ve only taken out a handful, perhaps it’s half full, or maybe, like me, the jar is almost empty.
Regardless of how what your jar looks like, you get to choose how you parent today.
Let’s remember the overall lesson here. Be intentional in our parenting. For whatever time you have left with your child in your home, purposely decide what’s most important to you that they learn. Keep the list small, and refer to it often. Maybe it’s simply five things, that could look something like this.
~ God loves you.
~ Character counts.
~ Do unto others as you would have them do to you.
~ Attitude is everything.
~ God is always good.
These are just some of my ideas, but you can come up with your own list. What are the values you want your child to have ingrained in their heart when you pull that last penny out of the jar? Make your times of discipline, the teachable moments, every meaningful interaction with your child tie back to one of these principles.
Instead of mindlessly letting the weeks go by, we want to seize the opportunity to train and guide our children in the way that they should go.
And while there are only three pennies left in our oldest daughter’s jar, I’d like to think there’s something else in there. It’s the unseen grace of God that’s covered each day of her life. For even if I’d tried to seize every moment of every week, I’d still have things I wish I’d done better or lessons I know I should have taught her.
But praise God, it’s not all up to me. God’s grace covers those weeks when I lost my temper or was too lazy to grab that teachable moment. It was also His grace that allowed me to connect with her heart and share truths from God’s Word.
And when there’s only an empty jar left, He’ll continue to work in her life. As for me, I’ll continue to pray for and influence her in the best way I know how.
So let’s visualize our jars of pennies and look for ways to be intentional in our parenting. Then remember to thank God for His grace that covers it all.